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Toyota’S 2016 Mirai Presents the Future

Hybrids and plug-in hybrids were all the rage when it comes to alternative propulsion, but Toyota isn’t giving up on hydrogen. In fact, it has followed through with the hydrogen-powered vehicle it promised for 2015.

In Japanese, “mirai” means “future,” and the Mirai is the future of motoring: It runs solely on hydrogen and its only emissions are water. Expected later in 2015, the Mirai initially will be sold or leased just in California, where the infrastructure for hydrogen fueling exists. Range is around 300 miles, refueling will take about five minutes, and fuel is included for the first three years of ownership. The powertrain has an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty to allay early-adopter concerns.

Driving impression

For all of its newfangled technology, the Mirai drives no differently than a normal battery-electric vehicle, which is to say it feels heavy, synthetic, and utterly free of drama. Its acceleration starts out spry but drops off drastically as one approaches highway speeds. Toyota’s claim that the Mirai can hit 60 mph in nine seconds flat is entirely believable based on its short bursts of acceleration. All the while, the powertrain is utterly silent save for some muted gear whine, which in turn makes other sources of sound, such as the tires on the pavement and even the HVAC system, seem louder.


Like the exterior, the Mirai’s interior design is highly expressive and unusual, centralizing the gauges up by the windshield, à la Prius, and arranging secondary controls on intersecting planes that swoosh across the cabin. As is becoming the trend these days, many of the controls are of the capacitive-touch variety. Hopefully, Toyota will at least throw in a microfiber wipe cloth to deal with the copious fingerprints, as does Cadillac with its CUE-equipped products.


Like BEVs, fuel-cell vehicles are heavy, and the Mirai is said to weigh in at a hefty 4079 pounds—nearly 600 more than a dimensionally similar Camry hybrid—despite the use of carbon fiber for the storage tanks. At least the heaviest bits are mounted low and are spread out within the vehicle structure.

On the plus side, the ride couldn’t be creamier if the shocks were filled with Cool Whip. Notably, unlike those in some FCVs and BEVs, the Mirai’s regenerative brakes are not aggressive enough to facilitate one-pedal driving—where the driver merely needs to lift off the accelerator to slow the car in normal traffic—even in battery-priority mode.

Although there are no MPGe numbers available yet, the Mirai promises to be relatively fuel efficient, offering more range than the recently released Hyundai Tucson fuel cell (up to 300 miles versus 265 for the Tucson) despite having lower tank capacity (11 pounds of hydrogen versus 12.4 for the Tucson). Furthermore, while filling the Tucson’s tanks takes about ten minutes, Toyota claims that process will take only five minutes with the Mirai, a time comparable to how long it takes to fill up a gas-fueled car’s tank.

Hydrogen infrastructure

Hydrogen much like the electric charging infrastructure was when EVs began hitting the market; the hydrogen fuelling infrastructure is in its infancy in places like the US. The country’s Alternative Fuels Data Centre lists just 12 hydrogen stations across the country, most of them concentrated in Southern California.

“The issue of infrastructure is not so much about how many, but rather, location, location, location,” Bob Carter, senior VP of automotive operations, Toyota Motor Sales USA, said at Toyota’s CES press conference in January.

“If every vehicle in California ran on hydrogen – we could meet refuelling logistics with only 15 per cent of the nearly 10,000 gasoline stations currently operating in the state. Stay tuned, because this infrastructure thing is going to happen,” he enthused.

The infrastructure is indeed starting to happen in places like California. Last month, the California Energy Commission announced $46.6 million of funding for accelerating hydrogen refuelling station development.

This will help bring California’s number of stations from nine to 54, just beyond half its longer term goal of 100.

Toyota itself is assisting with funding for First Element Fuel, one of the companies that were awarded Energy Commission monies.

Toyota has even pledged to help maintain 19 of them and is inviting other OEMs to follow its lead. Toyota claims that the number of stations is less important than their locations; citing a study by the University of California, Irvine, Toyota says that most customers will want to be within a six-minute drive of a refueling station, and it would take only 68 refueling stations strategically located in the Bay area and the Los Angeles/San Diego corridor to adequately serve a population of 10,000 fuel-cell vehicles. Another dozen stations, partially supported by Toyota along with energy supplier Air Liquide, are on the way in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island to support Mirai sales there starting in 2016.

AUTO Clinic

Keep your car’s air conditioning system trouble-free
Air Conditioning System check

Your car’s air conditioning is the one system that probably doesn’t require a lot of regular maintenance. In general, if the system’s working, it’s OK. If not, it needs to be checked and repaired.

Below are a few simple checks you can perform to keep the A/C working properly, or determine whether it needs to be serviced:

Check the Condenser— that’s the large heat exchanger in the front of your car, just forward of the radiator, look at it and make sure there’s no dirt or debris blocking air flow through it. Remove any litter that’s attached itself to the condenser and use a garden hose to wash away any dirt or bugs.

Check the Belt— with the engine off, check the compressor belt for wear and make sure it’s tight. If it’s too loose or damaged, have it tightened or replaced before the summer gets into full swing.

Check the Operation— Start the engine and try the A/C on the first warm day. Do you hear any strange noises?

If your car has an electric cooling fan, does it start when you turn on the A/C? (It should on most cars.) Is cold air coming out of the vents? Try the controls: Does the air come out of the correct vents?

If everything seems OK, your air conditioning probably will work fine or the season. But if you notice a problem during any of these checks, take your car in to have the system checked and repaired.

Finally, check the air filter. Some of today’s cars have an air filter to filter the air coming into the passenger compartment. It may be called a pollen filter, a particulate filter or a micron filter. Whatever it’s called, if your car has one, you should check it and replace it if it’s dirty. If you’re not sure if your car has an A/C system air filter, check your owner’s manual. It’ll tell you whether it has one, where to find it and how to check it.

Don’t wait until summer to get you’re A/C fixed…do it now while it’s still cool enough!

Tips for Maintaining a Car Air Conditioner
Running the air conditioner once a week for 10 minutes will maintain the gas pressure. This prevents hardening of the hoses and compressor seals failure. Turn the air conditioner to its coolest setting and highest fan speed.

Run the ‘defrost’ mode for five to ten minutes to clean out accumulated moisture. This prevents mildew and prevents that dirty wet cloth odour in the system.

Remember your air conditioning system does not only cool your vehicle but in addition one of its primary functions is to remove the humidity from the cabin. So it is good practice to use your air conditioner in cold weather to keep your windscreen free of fog which impairs your visibility.

By allowing all car windows to remain closed, even on the hottest days, the aerodynamics of the car remain at optimum, keeping fuel consumption low and exterior noise to a minimum, increasing safety to the driver and passengers.

You may not be aware that over 10 per cent of air-con gas permeates from the air-con system every year, which means that it may not work as well as it should. This is why car manufacturers recommend your Air-Con system is recharged with gas and lubricant every two years.

It is good practice to get a full air conditioning service at least every two years. Try and do this before the hotter month’s start, as this will ensure that you are not caught out by a sudden heat wave at the start of the season. This will enable you to keep ahead of any system faults or potential compressor failure.

A poorly maintained system operating on a low amount of oil and gas will reduce your compressors capacity to run efficiently costing you extra in fuel.

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Posted By BOBRICKY On 07:35 Sat, 30 May 2015

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